July 22, 1934 - outside Chicago's Biograph Theater, a barrage of FBI bullets brings down John Dillinger. As the body of Public Enemy Number one crumbles to the ground, one of the strangest,... See full summary »
F. Murray Abraham,
Television viewer seeing this for the first time: Gee whiz, it's in black-and-white and was made in the 40's and is about crime and...Eureka!...another "noir" film is discovered. How about ... See full summary »
Homicide detective Mike Carter is tossed off the police force for insubordination and violating regulations. He reluctantly takes a job as bodyguard to Mrs. Gene Dysen, the owner of a local... See full summary »
A blonde actress is murdered across from a bar. An off-duty cop has been getting pleasantly sloshed, but becomes worried about his innocence when he finds out he was seen leaving the ... See full summary »
William Powell plays William Foster, a slick attorney who stays within the law, but specializes in representing crooks and shady characters. He's adept at keeping them out of jail, winning ... See full summary »
The rise of John Dillinger from petty criminal (including, unforgiveably, holding up a cinema) via prison and bank robbery with his new convict associates to the accolade of Public Enemy Number One. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
The first of four films made by Lawrence Tierney with director Max Nosseck. There was no love lost between them, however. In a magazine interview, Tierney said that he "hated" Nosseck. The feeling, as it turned out, was mutual. See more »
Dillinger died in 1934, but there are numerous mid- to late-30's automobiles used, a 1939 Ford and a 1940 Lincoln coupe, among others. See more »
"Dillinger" was made by poverty row studio Monogram Pictures as a "B" picture programmer however, it turned out to be much better than everyone had anticipated. Although it takes liberties with actual facts, it is nonetheless a dark and brooding little film noire.
The producers lucked in when Lawrence Tierney was cast in the lead role. He plays John Dillinger as a cold blooded non-repentant killer. The real Dillinger was apparently nothing like Tierney's interpretation but was more of a Robin Hood type character who was only a bank robber and not the cold blooded killer depicted in this film.
The story follows Dillinger from a small time hood to his first prison term where he meets future members of his gang. Specs Green (Edmund Lowe) is the planner and three of the most recognizable faces in gangster pictures round out the gang. First there is Marco (Eduardo Ciannelli), then Doc (Marc Lawrence) and finally Kirk Otto (Elisha Cook Jr.).
Along the way Dillinger meets his "femme fatale", Helen Rogers (Anne Jeffreys). After Dillinger springs the gang from prison they go on a bank robbing spree. Dillinger takes over the gang from Specs and runs things his way. Eventually the gang members are either caught or killed and Dillinger goes to hide out in Chicago. After several months in hiding he and Helen go to a movie at the Biograph theater. Helen is dressed in red and well you know the rest.
Tierney should have risen to major stardom after this film but due to his personal problems, he never really did. He reportedly had a hair trigger temper and often got into bar room brawls, Naturally producers began to shy away from. His career is not unlike another actor who almost made it, Tom Neal.
After starring roles in a few films, notably "Born To Kill" (1947), he drifted into smaller and smaller roles. He did find work well into the 1990s but never did achieve stardom. But his work in this film is what has elevated it to the cult status it enjoys today. The gunning down of the elderly Ottos (Elsa Janssen, Ludwig Stessel) and the maiming of a bar waiter are particularly chilling.
Edmund Lowe had been a star in silent films. By this time his career was winding down. Ciannelli, Lawrence and Cook were staples in gangster roles for decades thereafter.
John Milius who made the 1973 "Dillinger" (closer to the facts) provides some interesting insights and commentary on the DVD release.
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